The Obamacare debacle remains … well, a debacle.
At a time when I should have my family’s insurance coverage locked up for 2014, I learned this past week that — despite previous assurances from the government’s call center — my application for coverage has not been completed or submitted to AmeriHealth.
Let’s start at November 13, when I attempted to finally enroll via healthcare.gov and over the phone.
Even though I had completed all of the necessary steps to that point, the site didn’t work that day and locked my account — allowing me to do nothing more on the healthcare.gov site. I called the call center, who couldn’t even find me in the system — despite the fact I had an account, had selected an insurer and clicked enroll.
They discovered my family in the system once they figured out healthcare.gov had determined my 8-year-old son was the head of the household. The call center operator said we couldn’t do anything until he gave me permission to access the account (he was in school, so that wasn’t happening).
Once they found me and I convinced them I wouldn’t be calling my son’s school for permission, however, they couldn’t access my account because healthcare.gov was down. She advised me to call the insurer to see if they had received my application.
The insurer helpfully said that they wouldn’t even receive the application for three to six weeks after it was submitted via healthcare.gov — which, at best, put us at early December and at worst past the deadline to have insurance on January 1.
On February 16 of last year, I was in a New Orleans hotel room preparing for a meeting when my wife Becky called and said simply, “I have cancer.”
We knew it was possible, but that didn’t in any way lessen the impact of those three words.
I have cancer.
Everything that was right and comfortable was in that instant washed away by a million questions with no answers. At a time when we needed nothing more than certainty and clarity, there was only confusion and doubt.
Upon landing in Philadelphia hours later, I called to see how she was doing with her newly diagnosed breast cancer. Feeling numb, I managed to make one other call soon after landing. Not to friends. Not to family. Instead, it was to our insurance company.
That’s right: Other than my wife, the one person I most wanted to speak to in the world was a Cigna call center operator.
We hadn’t even had a chance to meet with her oncologist to discuss potential courses of treatment, but we had questions because we had recently changed our plan to carry higher out-of-pocket costs and lower deductibles. We needed answers to those questions so we could go about worrying about more important things.
What procedures are covered? Are the doctors at the cancer center in plan? What is the maximum out of pocket? What other limits should we know about?
A 15-minute conversation later, we were comfortable that insurance wouldn’t be an issue and had a decent understanding of what our share of the costs would be. At a time of absolute fear and confusion, our insurer provided a moment of comfort and clarity.
That is the kind of financial and emotional stress that millions of people face every day in the United States. That is also the kind of financial and emotional security the Affordable Care Act was supposed to provide — especially to those who currently lack health insurance. Continue reading…
There were two high-profile apologies in the news this week — by the Leader of the Free World and by a Man Who Makes Yoga Pants.
Neither was well executed and neither was well received.
Let’s start with President Obama, who offered his belated apology on the rollout of the federal health exchange at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. After more than five weeks of shifting stories, blame and timelines, the president sat down with Chuck Todd to say “I’m sorry” for repeatedly saying some variation of, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period.”
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he told NBC News. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”
Critics quickly and loudly objected to the president’s use of passive voice — and the fact that he claimed people found themselves with cancelled plans “based on assurances they got from me.” They pointed out that it wasn’t the assurances that cancelled the plans; it was the way Obama’s administration wrote the regulations that required insurance companies to cancel the plans.
In short, Obama didn’t own the cause of the pain. He only apologized for the “assurances” (which, by almost all accounts, are better known as “lies”).
Now, the Man Who Makes Yoga Pants.
Lululemon founder Chip Wilson got in hot water for blaming women’s bodies for well-publicized problems with his company’s yoga clothes, including see-through pants and pilling:
“Even our small sizes would fit an extra large, it’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there … over a period of time, and how much they use it,” he said.
This, of course, led to a predictable backlash — particularly on the company’s Facebook page, where women shared their views of the company and Wilson’s basically saying “You’re too fat to wear our clothes.”
After spending more than two hours in the waiting room, I once again tried to create an account at healthcare.gov so my family could #GetCovered – as instructed by President Obama and Secretary Sebelius.
My first attempt at setting up an account today was thwarted when healthcare.gov said the user name I attempted to use was no good:
Ack! It says the username already exists? This was the username I had set up on Day One (backstory here), but the system ultimately didn’t recognize it. I feared some other Tony Jewell had used my cleverly placed underscore.
As the owners of small businesses, my family has been curious to learn how much insurance would cost us once the Affordable Care Act kicks in – and what our choices of networks, providers and whatnot would be.
With the arrival of the October 1 open enrollment period, my first computer stop was healthcare.gov to begin comparison shopping among the four ACA plans vs. the COBRA plan that we have through the end of 2014.
Here’s how it went:
October 1, 2013
7:30 a.m. – I first encounter the Health Insurance Marketplace waiting room.
7:33 a.m. – The drop-down boxes on the security questions aren’t working.